Belarus makes a dramatic run for the European Championship finals!
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women
Poprad, Slovakia, June 6, 2013. Belarus was the first team to make it to the finals of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women from the 3rd qualification round. The team from Eastern Europe overcame Slovakia in an emotional duel decided by a golden set and will play in Pool C in Dresden, Germany, against Russia, Azerbaijan and Croatia.
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Slovakia vs. Belarus 3:1 (15-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-20)
Golden Set 14-16
Struck by a virus before the game, the Slovaks surprised even themselves by winning the second leg of this clash by 3:1 with 19 points each from the top scorers of the match Dominika Drobnakova and Monika Stankovianska. Tatsiana Markevich tallied 13 points for Belarus. In the golden set, Slovakia went for the final kill by building a 4-point advantage, but could not hold on to it and lost dramatically by 14-16.
The Slovakian team had big problems in getting ready for the match. The night before the game nine of the twelve players were struck down by an unknown virus. Most of the team had serious stomach problems and spent Thursday morning in the hospital under infusions. Head coach Miroslav Cada had some serious difficulties in choosing a lineup for the match. Both setters were in bad condition, so he used his assistant, former great international setter 39-year old Monika Smak who was the best player on the court.
Belarus won the first set by an easy 25-15 and it looked like the team mentored by head coach Viktar Hancharou was on the easy road to victory, as Slovakia had only eight players available to use. But from the second set Smak put on a great performance and the home heroines rose, inspired by more than 1000 enthusiastic spectators. Slovakia won the next three sets in great fashion and everything had to be decided in a golden set.
The Slovakian side continued its good performance and took the lead by 8-5 and later by 12-8. But the Belarusians turned the score to 14-13 in their favor and eventually converted their next set point to advance to the finals. The hall was very quiet after it was all finished, but then the Slovakian players left the court under the big applause from the audience.
Miroslav Cada, head coach of Slovakia: "It is very sad. We had big problems before the match, because our players had serious health problems the night before and we spent this morning in the hospital. We were so close; it is very hard for me to comment. Despite the loss, our players showed outstanding morale and I want to thank them for this. Really great performance was made by Smak. She was totally tired in the end, because she had not been so involved in training. Anyway, I think that she was the best player on the court."
Viktar Hancharou, head coach of Belarus: "We are very happy. We did not play well in the match, but we were lucky in the end."
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